Major business growth powers expansion for space fuel specialist

European Astrotech is growing rapidly after landing a cash injection and winning a clutch of new contracts.

The business which provides engineering, technical and advisory support to the space propulsion industry, is taking on a new operation at Westcott and refurbishing its existing facilities at the Park having received £740,000 of funding from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

It is developing Plot 81 at Westcott, installing 12 connected modular buildings to house offices, a meeting room and training area with work expected to be completed by mid-March.

This has freed up space in the existing facility where the cash is being used for upgrades including an ISO 8 clean room facility, laboratory and materials test areas. Its B1 and B2 test sites have also been refurbished with the latest data acquisition instrumentation and feed systems.

The new base at Plot 81 will be used to expand the training arm of the business with it acting as a consultant for the spaceports set to launch UK missions.

European Astrotech managing director Chris Smith said:

“This is a really exciting time for the business with the growth coming on the back of the rapid development of the UK space industry.

“We’re going to be running a four-day course with the Civil Aviation Authority about hazardous propellants and launch operations as they have the task of regulating the new UK spaceports.

“We are also teaching post graduates from UK Universities learning about the practical side of rocket testing and Ground Support Equipment build and we also have Surrey Satellite Technology coming to do a training refresher course on High Test Peroxide handling.” 

Chris added: “We want to be able to offer subsidised courses for students and postgraduates with the onus on getting them up to speed before they go into industry.”

European Astrotech has built up a wealth of experience working with spaceports globally in America, French Guiana, India, China and Russia. Chris said:

“We’ve worked with all the big players – I’ve been involved in more than 70 fuelling operations over the last 35 years. We are one of the only companies providing training on the big picture, from satellite delivery through to launch and all the hazardous operations in between.”

Other business activities in March will see European Astrotech deploying fuelling teams to SpaceX in Cape Canaveral for the EnMAP environmental mapping and analysis programme launch campaign and the Guiana Space Centre for the next Galileo mission. 

The business will also be fuelling the remaining Galileo satellites up to and including 2025 while contracts are expected for the Euclid and Biomass satellites soon.

In June it is looking to fuel the SARah satellites at SpaceX, Vandenburg, California and in November it will be performing simulant loading and testing of the NAOS satellite in either ESTEC (Holland) or Intespace, Toulouse. Finally, it is expecting to fuel THEOS-2 in Kourou sometime in December this year. 

Chris said: “We are winning far more contracts than in previous years which reflects our expertise in the field of space propulsion as well as the general growth in the space sector.”

Rod Mordey, Westcott asset manager said:

“We are delighted to be able to accommodate European Astrotech’s ongoing growth by providing additional space at the Park.  Our job is to support the innovative companies based at Westcott throughout their lifecycle, providing them with a secure and sustainable environment to grow and develop their business operations.

“Westcott is a unique business park with a thriving ecosystem of space companies building upon the site’s history in rocket motor propulsion. It is a secure site with an established regulatory and safety regime suitable for testing a wide variety of systems.”

Richard Harrington, CEO of Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“We are delighted to support European Astrotech’s establishment of its Centre of Excellence for Rocket Engine and Flow Tests Facility at Westcott with a £740,000 Getting Building Fund award. 

“This investment opens up the next stage in the evolution of the Westcott site to attractnew business and investment to this globally leading centre of excellence in space propulsion in the heart of Buckinghamshire.”